Changes Proposed to the Regulation of Gambling Advertisements

The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has announced a public consultation to strengthen the rules and guidance for gambling advertisements to protect children, young people (under 18s) and vulnerable adults.  It could lead to significant changes to the tone and content of advertising and marketing practices in the UK, and limit commercial opportunities for celebrities and sports personalities to endorse or act as brand ambassadors for bookmakers.

The UK Advertising Codes already contain strict specific restrictions around gambling advertisements which are designed to limit the exposure and appeal of such ads to young people.  However, recent research by GambleAware suggests that the effect of gambling advertisements on young and vulnerable people may be more impactful (and potentially harmful) than previously thought.

Therefore, the CAP is consulting on proposals to:

  • Update the UK Advertising Code to prohibit advertisements relating to gambling which ‘strongly’ appeal to under-18s and vulnerable adults.  This would extend the prohibition on the use of animated characters to cover other behaviour, language and appearances which would ‘strongly’ appeal to under-18s, including the use of prominent sports people and celebrities.  This will have significant impact on gambling advertisers and personalities who have commercial deals with gambling companies.
  • Update Guidance: To prohibit advertisements that suggest that gambling is a way to be part of a community based on skill, or that skill can be used to control bets.  Further, the consultation proposes prohibiting the use of humour to downplay the risks of gambling, that cashing-in bets early/money back constitutes security or unrealistic portrayals of winning.

Those active in the gambling industry will therefore want to play close attention to the development of this consultation to ensure that they meet the requisite regulatory standards.   This will also be of interest to personalities who have deals to advertise gambling services.  Any change in rules may effectively prohibit these arrangements.

By Dan Harrington

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